Synergies Work announces 1st ever EDDIE Award Winner — Aarti Sahgal & Vanessa Castañeda Gill


Synergies Work recently hosted its inaugural EDDIE Awards–which is the first award in the U.S. spotlighting entrepreneurs with disabilities. The EDDIE Awards stands for “Entrepreneurs Dedicated to Diverse and Inclusive Excellence.”  On today’s Small Business Show,  we’re pleased to welcome back Aarti Sahgal, Founder of Synergies Work Inc., and Vanessa Castañeda Gill, CEO & Co-Founder of Social Cipher and the winner of this year’s EDDIE Awards.

Synergies Work is the largest platform space for entrepreneurs with disabilities to receive the resources they need to succeed in the entrepreneurial landscape. 

The EDDIE Award is a celebration not only of entrepreneurship but a celebration of disability. 

"I firmly believe anyone identifying as disabled already has an edge over other entrepreneurs."

Sahgal states, “Everyone at Synergies Work believes the innovation merely is the DNA of the disability community.” The businesses’ buzzwords are predominant within the disabled community- since they are the ones who get up with the growth mindset daily. Primarily since they work in an environment that isn’t designed for them. The EDDIE Awards had a national call for entrepreneurs with disabilities. Synergies received more than 100 applications in the five categories:

  1. Technology 
  2. Social Impact 
  3. Brick and motor businesses 
  4. New entrepreneurs
  5. Creativity 

EDDIE is being utilized to bridge the gap between the business community and the different types of entrepreneurs, like those with disabilities. 

The Winner:

This year’s first EDDIE Award recipient is Vanessa Castaneda, CEO and co-founder of Social Cipher- A social and emotional gaming software for neurodiverse youth with neurological differences like ADHD, Autism, Anxiety, or anyone who may process the world differently. The company makes space pirate adventure games to better assist them in understanding themselves. While also helping teachers and counselors better understand their youths’ social and emotional well-being.  

Castaneda developed the platform through her own experience of being diagnosed with ADHD and autism at the age of 14. Castaneda asserts how she struggled with the stereotypes around autism and not being represented in media or grasping any support for her challenges. However, finding a community and understanding neuroscience helped build her confidence and led her to discover the EDDIE Award application.